Drymaria Cordata, Tropical Chickweed

by Green Deane

in Edible Raw, Greens/Pot Herb, Medicinal, Miscellaneous, Plants

Dry Maria, White Snow, Drymaria, Drymaria cordata. Photo by Green Deane

Drymaria cordata: Kissing cousin chickweed

Drymaria cordata is one of those plants that confounds the mind. You know what it resembles: Chickweed. It has one of the main characteristic of chickweed, an elastic inner core. However it ain’t your usual chickweed, but it is a kissing cousin. It reminds you that plants are in families for a reason and they do look alike as many family members do.

D. cordata’s growth habit closely resembles chickweed (Stellaria) but the leaves are wrong, there is no fine line of hair on the stem, and the leaves do not taste like raw corn. Nonetheless. your mind, that great pattern finder, says this is chickweed.

Were it not for the fact it surrounded my tangerine tree years ago I would have never paid much attention to it. Drymaria cordata (dry-MAIR-ri-ah core-DAY-ta) is one of the few edibles that is not mentioned in virtually any of my 100-plus books on foraging. There is also the issue of what to call it: Drymary, Heartleaf Drymary, Whitesnow, Tropical Chickweed, West Indian Chickweed. It also has a second scientific name Drymaria diandra, though some list that as a subspecies or a variety and it has many herbal uses.

And the genus name is no help. Drymaria comes from the Greek word drymos (dreeMOS)  meaning forest. The D. cordata does not grow in the forest, but apparently some relative did thus the name. Cordata helps. The leaves are roughly heart shaped.  Diandra is Greek and means twice the man, or two men. It does not mean “Diana” as a lot of baby name books say. There is no linguistic justification for that. To say Diandra is Greek for Diana is to ignore that the Greek name for Diana is Artemis, and that diandra literally does mean two men. To go from two men to a goddess is a bit of a leap.  However what diandra means referring to the plant is a good guess.  In botany diandra usually means two stamens. The cordata has three stamens.

Unlike its relative chickweed, Stellaria, only the leaves and young shoots of the D. cordata are eaten. They are also ground, boiled, then the water filtered and the water used for a variety of medicinal issues. Science has confirmed it has some interesting properties. See the Herb Blurb below. Drymaria cordata also invades 31 commercial crops in 45 countries.

Mild in flavor, raw leaves can be added to salad or other dishes. You can also cook them. As they are used in several herbal applications I suggest you don’t over do them in one meal, particularly raw. Also, Drymaria gracilis is edible as well but…

Inkweed, Drymaria p. is toxic. Photo by New Mexico State University.

Inkweed, Drymaria pachyphylla is toxic. Photo by New Mexico State University.

One other thing: It has a relative, Drymaria pachyphylla (dry-MAiR-ee-a pak-ee-FIL-uh) also called the Thick Leaf Drymaria. It is poisonous. Fortunately it looks a lot different, usually growing in a small rosette just a few inches across. It’s native range is Texas through the southwest. It often poisons livestock. Avoid it.

Green Deane’s “Itemized” Plant Profile

IDENTIFICATION: D. cordata: Annual herb with slender, smooth stems to about a foot long, frequently rooting at the nodes. Leaves roughly heart shaped, opposite, very short stems. Veins in leaf palmate from the base (the veins go out like five fingers from the bottom end of the leaf, clearly seen on the underside.) Flowers on long stalks; 5 sepals, petal 5, deeply 2-lobed, shorter than the sepal, white; 3 stamen, style divided into three below the middle.  Does NOT have milky sap. If you have a plant you think is chickweed and it has milky sap you have the wrong plant

TIME OF YEAR: During the cool weather in warm climates, spring and summer in more temperate climates. Far more distributed around the world them most official maps show, Florida to Nepal to Africa.

ENVIRONMENT: Likes sun and moist soil, a pesky weed to cultivated areas and lawns around the world.

METHOD OF PREPARATION:Leaves usually used raw in salads.  Has a tender, mild flavor. As it is also an herbal medication, don’t eat a truck load at a time.  (Also see chickweed elsewhere on this site.)

HERB BLURB

Abstract:

Different extracts of Drymaria cordata Willd (aerial parts) were tested for antibacterial efficacy against Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 29737, Escherichia coli ATCC 10536, Bacillus subtilis ATCC 6633, Bacillus pumilis ATCC 14884 and Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC 25619. The effects produced by the extracts were found to have significant activities against all the organisms being tested and the effects so produced were compared with those of chloramphenicol. The methanol extract was found to be the most effective.

Abstract:

The methanol extract of Drymaria cordata Willd, was investigated for its effect on a cough model induced by sulfur dioxide gas in mice. It exhibited significant antitussive activity when compared with the control in a dose-dependent manner. The antitussive activity of the extract was comparable to that of codeine phosphate, a prototype antitussive agent. The D. cordata extract (100, 200, 400 mg/kg) showed 11.6%, 31.6% and 51.5% inhibition of cough with respect to the control group.

Abstract

A novel anti-HIV alkaloid, drymaritin (1), and a new C-glycoside flavonoid, diandraflavone (2), along with eight known compounds, torosaflavone A, isovitexin, spinasterol β-D-glycoside, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, p-hydroxybenzaldehyde, cis-p-coumarate, methyl 5-hydroxy-4-oxopentanoate, and glycerol-α-lignocerate, were isolated from Drymaria diandra. Drymaritin (1) exhibited anti-HIV effects in H9 lymphocytes with an EC50 value of 0.699 μg/mL and a TI of 20.6. Compound 2 showed significantly selective inhibition on superoxide anion generation from human neutrophils stimulated by fMLP/CB with an IC50 value of 10.0 μg/mL.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

DaveW March 19, 2016 at 20:48

You are absolutely right. My back brain kept saying chickweed, but my front brain kept saying it doesn’t have the right leaves and with no flowers to go on, I believed my front brain. Opposite but very vaguely chordate leaves; running stems rooting at nodes; and lots of googling finally led to Drymaria cordata and even eventually an Australian weed page with good pictures, but yours is the best write-up. Can’t say I like the taste, so I’m going to weed it back in this Queensland garden.

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Looney tuna February 24, 2016 at 17:05

Has anyone experimented with a change of soil ph? Also my yard is very nutrient deficit and I want to believe this plant is creating something for my soil. All is well. It will grown until it finds the yard no longer suited for its needs. Certainly it is laying down a lot of seeds for the future! My dogs are now self medicating by licking the sticky seed pods? Sounds healthy! I like anything but grass!

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Navin Ramudamu December 31, 2015 at 07:53

Hi im Navin from Sikkim(india) . I did not found the uses of this plant which I was expecting to be. because I think in our state Sikkim (India)have much more information about this plant.I think you should come to our beautiful state sikkim and research further to know more about Drymaria cordata

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Kim March 27, 2015 at 14:06

I’ve searched and don’t get have a good answer.

Do you know whether Creeping Jenny (sold as groundcover, half-inch or less round leaves, evergreen near Atlanta, Georgia, bright green in spring/ plum in winter, fairly invasive, mats and spills out of containers) is edible?

After fighting it for so long, it would be great to discover I could eat it!

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Green Deane March 27, 2015 at 17:17

If your “Creeping Jenny” is Lysimachia nummularia then this is what the Encyclopedia of Edible Plants of North America says on page 198: “The leaves of L. nummularia, moneywort, introduce from Europe and L. quadrifolia, whorled loosestrife, Eastern North America, — have occasionally been used as tea.”

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bwoodham January 11, 2015 at 11:20

Back to question!!! How do you get rid of Tropical Chickweed????
My dog has lost a lot of hair because of combing, I am sure she would
be grateful for a good solution!
Thanks,
B.

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Green Deane January 11, 2015 at 17:41

That’s outside my area of knowledge. I’m not an agriculturist and my entire focus is not to get rid of plants but use them.

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Katie March 5, 2014 at 09:58

So glad to know I am not the only one who kept trying to make this chickweed! I’ve seen it around in other years, but this year, maybe because of the warm/wet winter, it has really spread out in my garden, landscape beds at work, and a stormwater ditch site. I finally went to Wunderlin and Hansen’s Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants and searched for every non-native in my county (553) and looked at photos of each one to figure this bugger out.

Thanks for having the low-down on it. At least it’s nice to know that if it’s going to act ill-mannered, one can eat it, in moderation. And for those who really don’t want it around? If it’s not interleafed with other plants, boiling water works and works only on what it touches, leaving the rest of the garden happy and healthy.

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farouk February 10, 2014 at 10:56

With reference to: http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/67767518/analgesic-antipyretic-activitie the academic journal – African Journal of Traditional, and Alternative Medicine Jan, 2012, Issue 1,p.25 ,the following abstract is given :
Drymaria cordata (Linn.) Willd (Caryophyllaceae) is an herbaceous plant widely used in traditional African medicine (TAM) for the treatment of diverse ailments including painful and febrile conditions. This study was conducted to investigate the analgesic and antipyretic properties of the whole plant extract of D. cordata. The acetic acid-induced writhing, formalin, and tail clip tests were used to evaluate analgesic activity while the 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP)-, d-amphetamine-, and yeast-induced hyperthermia tests were used to investigate antipyretic activity in rodents. D. cordata (100, 200, and 400 mg kg-1, p.o) produced significant (p<0.05) analgesic activity in the mouse writhing, formalin (second phase), and tail clip tests. The effects of D. cordata were generally comparable to those of acetylsalicylic acid (ASA, 100 mg kg-1, p.o) and morphine (2 mg kg-1, s.c). Also, D. cordata produced significant (p<0.05) dose-dependent inhibition of temperature elevation in the 2,4-DNP and yeast-induced hyperthermia models with peak effects produced at the dose of 400 mg kg-1. The effect at this dose was comparable to that of ASA in the two models. In the d-amphetamine method, D. cordata produced significant (p<0.05) dose- and time-dependent reduction of temperature elevation with peak effect produced at the dose of 200 mg kg-1. The effect of the extract at this dose was greater than that of ASA. The results obtained in this study demonstrate that the aqueous whole plant extract of Drymaria cordata possesses analgesic and antipyretic properties mediated through peripheral and central mechanisms.

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Cara January 23, 2015 at 13:33

Wow, that’s a barbaric experiment!

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Andi December 15, 2013 at 09:04

It’s interesting that you don’t mention the sticky seedpods on elongated stems that stick to your clothing. I don’t think chickweed has these sticky seedpods. Is that an easy way to tell this plant apart from chickweed?

Thank you for the medicinal herbal information! I have this all over my yard. Good to know it’s useful as well as pretty and soft to walk on.

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Green Deane December 17, 2013 at 07:59

When the seed pods are sticky is when most folks first notice the plant.

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tammy November 25, 2013 at 14:35

I have collected some from my yard and dried it for use as a tea when a cold hits and I may be tincturing some as well…. Used extensively in African Traditional medicine as well as in India. I also read it is used in China for snakebites…I see no reason to kill it.

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Alencar Westin July 23, 2013 at 14:24

Estamos enfrentando uma infestação de Drymaria Cordata em nosso sítio em Analândia SP Brazil. A praga que começou a infestação há quatro anos, hoje não escolhe nem época do ano nem local. Está presente em tempo integral independentemente de clima, época ou tipo de solo. Já tentamos o controle com capina e com aplicação de Tordom e outros herbicidas para folhas largas, mas tudo sem sucesso. Será que teria alguma sugestão?

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Green Deane July 23, 2013 at 14:48

Translated: We are facing an infestation of Drymaria Cordata in our site in Analândia SP Brazil. The plague that began four years ago, infestation today did not choose or time of year or location. Is this full time regardless of the weather, season or soil type. Already tried the control with weeding and with application of Tordom and other herbicides for Broadleaf, but all to no avail. Do you have any suggestions?

I’m sorry. I know very little about killing plants. Surprisingly I’m asked that kind of question often.

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Dianne July 21, 2013 at 15:13

It is in the book, Weeds of Southern Turfgrasses by University of Florida IFAS extension.

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Igy July 11, 2013 at 11:18

Quote above-
“Mild in flavor, raw leaves can be added to salad or other dishes. You can also cook them. As they are used in several herbal applications I suggest you don’t over do them in one meal, particularly raw.”

What outcome (pun?) could be expected from overindulging?

Great site…………………….

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Phillip January 27, 2012 at 22:21

Thank you! I kept wanting to make this chickweed, but knew it wasn’t. This plant is all around my home and neighborhood in Gainesville, Florida, but I couldn’t find it in any of my books. It was also difficult to track down on the Internet. Most sites that talk about common Florida “weeds” do not even mention it.

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Norma November 19, 2011 at 06:25

Hi there
This weed has totally invaded my lawn and I am desperate to get rid of it. Do you have any suggestions?

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Green Deane November 19, 2011 at 06:29

It is edible, at least when young. As it is a close relative of the chickweed that which kills chickweed should kill it.

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Peter c November 20, 2015 at 17:33

My goodness people, is anyone listening to what Deane is saying? These plants are food, not something to be manicured because they don’t look nice! There is absolutely NO chance that the herbicides applied to your lawn will not adversely affect some other organism, whether right in your lawn or after being rained into the ground. These chemicals are not benign, even though the people profiting from them would like you to think so.

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Steph January 11, 2016 at 13:31

Thank you!

Reply

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